BY WARKA · AUGUST 23, 2015
China is about to take over a military base from the United States in the small East African nation of Djibouti, according to the website of China’s nationalistic tabloid the Global Times.
Djibouti reportedly ordered the US to vacate the Obock military base so that it can be turned over the People’s Liberation Army. According to US-based magazine CounterPunch, the announcement was made in May, a day after US secretary of state John Kerry visited the country.
The move is said to be “deeply worrying” for Washington as it comes amid a wave of Chinese investment in Djibouti that includes a US$3 billion rail project to connect the country with the capital of neighboring Ethiopi, Addis Ababa, and US$400 million in investments to modernize the country’s undersized port.
The deals have had Djibouti’s president Ismail Omar Guelleh “openly talking about the importance of his new friends from Asia,” the CounterPunch article said.
Djibouti is currently home to Camp Lemmonnier, the largest permanent US military installation in Africa, which houses 4,000 troops and a fleet of drones. The US Defense Department pays Djibouti nearly US$63 million per year for use of the base.
Though the US is losing only a secondary military installation in Obock, Washington is likely more concerned with what the base will provide China, which is strategic positioning in the Horn of Africa at a key entry point from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and a gateway to the Suez Canal.